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Constitutional Bodies in India

Posted by Admin on August 19, 2014 | Comment

The Constitutional bodies are mostly executive in nature, with the power of advising the government vested in them. Ensuring effective functioning of the government is the main objective behind the establishment of these bodies. While some are permanent agencies, there are a few ad hoc bodies as well, which are established for a fixed term. The constitutional bodies not only uphold the principles of the Constitution but also help government machinery to run smoothly.  

The Constitutional bodies in India

The different  Constitutional bodies in India are : 

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)

The UPSC is a central agency responsible for conducting examinations pertaining to Civil Services, Engineering Services, Defence Services, and Medical Services. It also conducts Economic Service, Statistical Service, and Police Forces examination.

Article 315 to 323 of Indian Constitution has a provision for such an agency. The history of UPSC goes back to 1926, when it was established for the first time.  The agency was given the constitutional status when Indian Constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950.

The Commission comprises a Chairman and ten other members. They are obliged to follow the rules mentioned in Union Public Service Commission (Members) Regulations, 1969. All the members of the commission are appointed by the President of India with at least half of the members being the Civil Servants (working or retired) with no less than ten years of experience in Central or State service.

The Secretariat of UPSC is led by a Secretary, two additional secretaries, joint secretaries, and deputy secretaries. Every member can hold office for six years or till the time he attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. A member can submit his resignation at any time to the President of India. On the flip side, the President can remove him on the ground of misbehavior.

The UPSC submits a report of its work to the President on an annual basis. The report is then tabled in both houses of Parliament for discussion. The President places a memorandum in relation to the cases where the commission’s recommendations were not accepted. The memorandum elucidates the reasons for non-acceptance.

Staff Selection Commission (SSC)

The SSC is an important constitutional body, which is empowered with the responsibility of recruiting staff for different ministries and departments of the government. SSC is considered as an attached office of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) which comprises Chairman, two Members along with a Secretary-cum-Controller of Examinations.

It was during 1967-68 when the recommendation for setting up a Service Selection Commission was made by the Estimates Committee of the Parliament. The idea was to have a central agency for conducting examinations for recruiting staff to lower categories of posts. In 1975, Subordinate Services Commission was established for this purpose. Two years later in 1977, the agency was renamed as Staff Selection Commission. Its functions were redefined in 1999.

The main function of SSC is to conduct examinations and/or interviews for recruiting staff in Group B, C, and D posts for various ministries and departments of the government and their subordinate offices. In case you don’t know, SSC doesn’t make any recruitment for states. It is only focused on serving central government.

Headquartered in New Delhi, the Staff Selection Commission has seven regional offices at Allahabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati, Kolkata, and Mumbai. Its two Sub-Regional Offices are located at Chandigarh and Raipur.

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

CVC is an apex government body, established in 1964 with the objective of addressing corruption within the government. It’s an autonomous body, responsible for monitoring all vigilance activities under the union government. Its primary role is to advise government agencies in “planning, executing, reviewing and reforming” their vigilance capability.

It’s to be noted that CVC is not an investigating agency. It operates in alliance with the CBI or the Departmental Chief Vigilance Officers. The only probe that CVC conducts is that of examining Civil Works of the government, which is done through the Chief Technical Officer. Before CVC can take up investigations into corruption cases against government officials, it has to be approved by the government. The CVC also publishes list of corrupt officials and recommends punitive action against them.

The President of India appoints the Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Vigilance Commissioners on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, Home Minister and the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha. It clearly indicates that the appointments to CVC are indirectly under the government’s control.

CVC is often considered a toothless agency as it is treated as an advisory body only with no power to register criminal case against government officials or direct CBI to initiate inquiries against any officer of the level of Joint Secretary and above. Although CVC is “relatively independent” in its functioning, it neither has the resources nor the power to take action on complaints of corruption.

Recently, news have been doing rounds that CVC will be given the power to report discrepancies or frauds in public sector banks. Moreover, the central vigilance officers (CVOs) are likely to get the authority to monitor and bring frauds to the notice of bank boards. Besides leveraging technology to prevent corruption, the CVC has taken new initiatives to improve the standard of vigilance work in the last few years.

Law Commission of India

Law Commission is an executive body that works for legal reform. The members of the commission are primarily legal experts, who work as per the government’s mandate. The Commission is set up for a fixed tenure and works as an advisory body to the Law Ministry. The first Law Commission was established during the British regime in 1834. Pre-independent India saw three more commissions being established. The first such commission in independent India was set up for a three-year term in 1955. Since then, 19 more Commissions have been established.

The Law Commission employs research analysts and law students who work in a research-oriented manner. The commission comprises research personnel of different ranks and secretarial staff who looks after the day-to-day functioning.

This executive body acts as an “initiation point for law reform” in India. It works towards outlining the problems and determining areas for law reform. After due diligence and extensive research, it comes up with a report, which is sent to the Law Ministry.  Once the proposals are cleared by other relevant ministries, action is taken to implement those recommendations.

Although an ad hoc body, the Law Commission has played a key role in law reform in India.  At times, it’s also critical of the government’s policies. The Supreme Court often follows the recommendations of the commission. However, since the commission’s proposals are not binding on the government, often the critical recommendations made by it are not implemented. The Law commission also works on specific issues when requested by the Supreme Court.

Election Commission of India (EC)

The Election Commission (EC) is charged with the duty of supervising, directing and controlling the entire process for conducting elections to Parliament and state legislatures and also to the offices of President and Vice-President of India. The poll commission is a permanent constitutional body, which was established in accordance with the Constitution in 1950. The commission ensures free and fair elections in India as per the principles enshrined in the Constitution. The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners for a tenure of six years.

As “guardian of free and fair elections”, the EC issues a Model code of Conduct for political parties and candidates. Fixing the legal limits on the amount of money a candidate can spend during poll campaigns is one of the many checks and balances it enforces. However, there are instances of violation of code by the political parties, which has brought severe criticism of EC’s efficacy.

From registration of political parties to prevention of unethical practices during the elections, the poll panel covers a wide gamut of responsibilities to lessen the burden of the administrative machinery.